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Staff blog

BLOG: Why we need your input to help shape a new strategy to take us to Net Zero

"The next phase in our journey to net zero carbon will require a step change in ambition, investment and behaviour change."

A Net Zero University - image shows woman dispensing loose, non-packed food from a dispenser

A blog by Sara Lynch, Head of Sustainability, Estates Directorate.


Queen's is committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions, and we have recently launched a survey and engagement campaign to get your views and input to help shape a new strategy to get us there.

So, what is net zero?

Net Zero means reducing our carbon emissions as much as possible and balancing out any carbon emissions remaining by removing it from of the atmosphere; for example, through off-setting.

The University has already made good progress in reducing our carbon emissions, with over £10 million invested to date in over 80 energy efficiency projects over the past 12 years and a wide range of projects across campus – from our Big Loop Bike Hub, which increases access to cycling, to our Lennoxvale Tree Nursery, which grows native trees for planting across campus. To date we have achieved a 21% reduction in carbon emissions at an institutional level.

We are also supporting sustainable travel – for example, we have increased cycle parking provision by 20% – and are making real headway in addressing the impact of our waste, with 90% diverted from landfill.

Crucially, we are also putting in place the infrastructure that will support sustainable ways of working, teaching, learning and living on campus as we move into the future, with sustainable design principles and practices embedded within our construction projects – for example, the sustainable techniques and design solutions used in the construction of the One Elmwood building and our new business school at Riddel, which will be heated using geothermal heating technology.

But we need to do more.

The next phase in our journey to net zero carbon will require a step change in ambition, investment and behaviour change. We are therefore developing a strategy to enable us to achieve these ambitions – to create a pathway and action plan to take us to net zero, and a plan for adapting to the impacts of climate change. Achieving net zero will require all of us – students, staff, suppliers, and wider stakeholders – to work together, so please take a few moments to complete the survey and, if possible, take part in one of the upcoming events.

Over the next few weeks there are a few opportunities to learn more about the Strategy and to share your views:

  • Webinar with the project team, including Professor Michael Alcorn, Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Strategic Projects), and Sara Lynch, Head of Sustainability at Queen's, on Wednesday 18 January, 12.30pm to 1.30pm. Learn more about the new strategy we are developing and ask your questions. Webinar recording available here.
  • Online Net Zero Staff Event on Thursday 26 January from 11.00am to 12.30pm. Hear from the project team who are developing the new strategy and talk about priorities for climate action at Queen's, ask questions and share your views on what we collectively need to do as a University to reduce our carbon emissions. Recording available here.
  • All students are invited to attend a Student Summit on Monday 30 January at 5.00pm in The Cube, Student Centre, One Elmwood. Hear from the project team and a panel of peers talking about priorities for climate action at Queen’s, ask your questions and share your views. Pizza will be provided! Register here.

This is the beginning of an ongoing conversation and an important moment in our journey to net zero. I encourage everyone to have their say and join this important conversation as the input of our students and staff will be integral to shaping our path.

Find out more

To learn more and sign up for events, visit the project webpage:

Photo: Sara Lynch
Sara Lynch
Head of Sustainability, Estates Directorate